Pay It Forward
by Hyde, Catherine Ryan

An immediate bestseller when first published, Pay It Forward captured hearts all over the world, became a wildly popular film, and spawned a generation of increased altruism. This anniversary edition includes a new introduction by the author. It takes an inspiring and moving tale of a young boy who believed in the power of kindness and brings it to a new generation of readers.

Twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney accepts his social studies teacher&;s challenge: come up with a plan to change the world. His idea is simple: Do a good deed for three people and ask them to &;pay it forward&; to three others in need. He envisions a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading beyond his small California town and across the world. The project, however, appears to falter. Jerry, a bum who receives some allowance money from Trevor, returns to a life of dissolution. Trevor wants his pretty, hardworking mother&;a woman who raised him lovingly despite struggles with alcoholism&;to marry his teacher, Reuben St. Clair. Reuben is a scarred, bitter, untrusting man with a disfiguring injury from Vietnam. He seems to come alive only when in front of his class. For a time that matchmaking brings nothing but problems. Ultimately, though, unusual things start to happen. Crime rates dip across the nation, and nobody seems to know why. Then a journalist tracks down the source: an epidemic of random acts of kindness.

Anyone who has ever despaired of one person&;s ability to effect change will rejoice in Trevor&;s courage and determination to see the good in everyone.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of twenty-five books, which include Where We Belong, When You Were Older, Walk Me Home, When I Found You, Don&;t Let Me Go, The Language of Hoofbeats, and Take Me With You, among others. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in various literary magazines. Following the success of Pay It Forward, Catherine founded the Pay It Forward Foundation and served as president until 2009. She lives in California with her dog, Ella, and their cat, Jordan. To learn more about the foundation and other forthcoming books, visit

Twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney takes on an extracredit assignment for his social studies class: think of an idea for world change and put it into action. Trevor's plan is simple-do something "big" for three people, and instead of having them pay him back, have each of them choose three people and pay it forward, and so on and on. The three people Trevor chooses to help seem unlikely to be able to pay it forward-a homeless junkie who lands back in jail; an elderly lady who suddenly dies; and his social studies teacher, Reuben St. Clair, who was disfigured in the Vietnam War and has a difficult time opening up to people. Hyde takes her time, slowly and delightfully revealing clues as to the impact of Trevor's plan, which, unknown to Trevor, takes on a life of its own. Although the ending is slightly contrived, Hyde makes the unbelievable seem possible in a beautifully written, heartwarming story of one boy's belief in the goodness of humanity. ((Reviewed December 15, 1999)) Copyright 2000Booklist Reviews

A best-selling adult novel has been reworked for a younger audience, with mixed results. Trevor McKinney is asked to do a seemingly impossible assignment-come up with an idea to change the world and put it into action. His idea is so simple that it might work: do someone a favor and ask them to do a favor for someone else instead of paying it back. Despite being the central character, Trevor is overshadowed by his mom, Arlene; teacher, Reuben; and their complicated relationship. This book may have been stronger had more of the story come from Trevor's point of view. Also, the original book was published in the 1990s, giving this edition a dated feel that adds another distracting layer over the central theme. However, with the growing popularity of books about tolerance and acceptance, such as Schooled (2007), by Gordon Korman, and Wonder (2012), by R. J. Palacio, Pay It Forward will likely find an audience. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

The buzz is big for this heartwarming, funny, and bittersweet story from Hyde (Funerals for Horses, not reviewed) about a teenager's plan to better the world. It all starts with a man and a boy. The man, Reuben St. Clair, a social-studies teacher who believes in positive thinking but who s also a badly disfigured, black Vietnam vet struggling daily with the way people look at him, assigns the following for extra credit: ``Think of an idea for world change, and put it into action.'' The boy, Trevor McKinney, takes the assignment to heart, not only because his mother, Arlene, is battling with alcohol and his father's gone missing, but also because he likes Reuben and begins to think maybe his mom would too. Trevor develops a pyramid payback scheme of good deeds, with the flow of payment reversed, and starts by finding three people he believes he can help, each of whom pledges to help three others. The first, a homeless addict/mechanic, receives Trevor's paper-route earnings and a place to shower before a job interview, but then blows his first paycheck on cocaine and ends up in jail. The second, an elderly woman on the paper route, receives all the yard- and garden-work she needs for free, but later dies in her sleep. The third, Reuben and Arlene considered together as a dysfunctional unit, are brought together by Trevor so they can help each other out of loneliness and just maybe give him a dad in the bargain, but they mix like oil and water. Apparently negative results prove to be just the opposite, however, and, unbeknownst to Trevor, his project snowballs into a national phenomenon with no end in sight. Invited to Washington to be honored by President Clinton, Trevor decides to do one more good deed, a selfless act that again succeeds beyond his wildest expectations. A quiet, steady masterpiece, with an incandescent ending. (Film rights to Warner Bros.; Book-of-the-Month featured alternate/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection; $250,00 ad/promo; author tour) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

A lesson for middle schoolers about the power of a good idea to change the world.What's the secret to making the world a better place? Apparently, it has a lot to do with math. Give Trevor McKinney a calculator, and he'll show you how doing people favors and requiring only that they pass those favors on to three more people can soon create a movement of beneficial behavior that touches the entire world. But it's not so easy to convince his classmates, teacher and mom, not to mention strangers, who are stymied by an ingrained suspicion of the honor system and its failings. It's only when an intrepid journalist makes several connections among stories that Trevor's idea gets the attention it deserves. But a serious altercation may prove that doing good is too dangerous. This new version of the best-selling adult book by the same name delivers a message of hope and possibility to middle schoolers, who will find Trevor an interesting and identifiable character. The parts of the book that handle the relationship between Trevor's teacher and his mom will be less compelling for young readers, who may find the vagaries of adult love too...vague. Other secondary characters are vibrant and add both humor and necessary tension to the story.A mostly satisfying book that offers young readers an important alternative worldview and a vision of responsible activism. (Fiction. 11-15) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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